Three Plays: Bedroom Farce, Absent Friends, Absurd Person Singular by Alan Ayckbourn

Bought this in college, and kept it at my bedside for years. B acted in an adaptation of Absurd Person Singular, which I think was the driving force behind the purchase (also, I love scripts,) and I found Ayckbourn on the whole witty, trenchant etc. And then I grew up and got married.

And let me tell you, I’m one of those people who thinks very dimly of the sitcoms where the married couples just bicker and are mean to each other and this is somehow supposed to be funny. It’s not, it’s awful, and I feel desperately sorry for anyone who thinks this is acceptable or, worse, aspirational. To a certain extent, I do blame Ayckbourn and his ilk for making that sort of bedroom farce (if you’ll excuse the pun) the standard by which so many drearily untalented “comedy” writers measure themselves, as at least 85% of the latter forget that the entire point isn’t that these miserable people are married, it’s that they’re miserably married, and honestly probably shouldn’t be married at all (but we’ll save the rant for the Western world’s fetishization of death-do-us-part marriages for another time.) Ayckbourn used comedy to highlight the absurdity of the (ostensibly British, but really quite universal) middle-class and its ambitions, and nothing was more symbolic of such than their marriages. When I was younger, before marriage and motherhood, I thought these plays much funnier than I do now. Nowadays, while I’m thankful to have enough self-awareness to avoid most of the traps these poor, unhappy people fall into, I can’t laugh at them as easily as I once could. Nowadays, I can’t help seeing the tragedy lurking just beneath, and it takes away a little of the pleasure these plays once gave me.

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